May 2012. It was a momentous season. There were many moving parts but it all came together and the celebration at Soif following the Saturday concert was full of joy and a deep sense of achievement. I don’t know where to begin. I think I will start with the moment that personally was the most profound. It happened off stage right after we took our final bows. David Arben had joined all the artists on stage and there were lots of smiles and hugs as we accepted our beautiful yellow bouquets put together by Lilly Kim. Arben made a point to hug and shake hands with each of us who had just premiered the chamber piece “Haim”, written by Polina, inspired by his miraculous life. As we all walked off the stage and gathered together, still relishing in the afterglow, Mr. Arben, began to tear up, telling us he had not been so touched in a very long time. The tears and strong emotions flowed for all of us in this unforgettable backstage moment.
Another story that has already been told dozens of times is about Arben’s miraculous arrival to the concert. For me, during festival week, I feel overstretched and just plain ol’ stressed out. My custom is to take some time to lay with my eyes closed by myself in my room before I leave for the evening concert. On May 12th, the day of the “Haim” world premiere and the culmination of honoring David Arben as a musician, mentor, and human being, I came home with just a few min to spare. I announced to those present (Konstantin, Dad and David) that I would take 10 min to relax in my room. Mom and sister had already left to prep the theater. A series of missteps began with a visit from Dad that I don’t recall. He popped his head in to my room saying he would depart now and for me to bring David with me to the concert. Once I got up I went into the living room and gave the boys (David and Konstantin) a heads up that we’d leave in about 10 min. Once ready I came out to find David at the grand piano, showing Konstantin some of the pages of the scrapbook I had made for him full of pictures and notes from friends and former students. “Time to go,” I said. David (not realizing the actual time) said my Dad would come back to pick him up. In my exhaustion, I neglected to question this idea, which I should have done considering there was only 40 min till the beginning of the concert. Once Konstantin and I arrived at the theater, my nerves and stress melted and I began to float on cloud nine. I was pumped for the concert. The first half went well and as the musicians for “Haim” waited for the cue to begin the second half, David came backstage with Enda (who was to present the Mayor’s proclamation, declaring May 12, 2012 “David Arben Day”). David, visibly shaken, came straight towards me and gripped my arm. “I didn’t think I was going to make it – I thought it was an hour earlier and realized I should have come with you but once I realized it was too late. I tried calling your cell phone…” As he spoke I looked at the monitor of the stage and saw Enda announcing the proclamation. I had to interrupt David and turn him around and literally push him on stage mid-story. My heart sunk – not only had he missed the first half but I worried as to HOW he had finally arrived at the concert! After taking a bow with his signed proclamation he came through the backstage door and as if the “pause” button had been released, he continued his story. “I had no idea where the theater was and so I just walked down the street in a panic—“ I interrupted, “David, I’m so sorry, I want to hear all the rest but we have to go on stage to perform your piece and I don’t want to start until you’ve been seated.” Enda escorted David to his seat.
The news devastated me. Polina came close to me, “Rebecca, forget it now. Now we must go out and perform. He is here. Everything is ok.” And away we went. “The show must go on” came to mind. It wasn’t until the reception following the concert that I heard the full story – many times. Thinking he had had more time, he returned to his room in our home to lie down and rest. After getting ready, he glanced at his watch and realized the concert had started 15 min ago. Only knowing my cell number, he called and left a message (which I didn’t hear until after the concert – that plus the text my sister sent: “I don’t want to stress you out but where is Mr. Arben?”). Next he left the house and took a walk down our street, Park Way, all the way to Soquel. He walked down the middle of the street flagging down every car that passed. Many passed him by. On his way back a couple pulled over. He told them, “I am being honored at a concert tonight and I am trying to find a ride there. I will pay you.” They asked his name. After sharing his name they apologized that they could not take him because they were just returning from the pharmacy and needed to go home. After a brief time, they returned and said, “It would be our honor to take you to the concert.” They had looked David up online and found out where the concert was. Once they got to the college campus they had to search a bit to find the hall. Perseverance paid off, barely. They arrived during the intermission, moments before the announcement of the mayor’s proclamation! The couple attended the concert with David and the strangest irony is that one of them was a student of David Kaun. Here is another miracle to add to the long list in this man’s extraordinary life.
By Kai Christiansen Oct 25, 2012
I have been meaning to write a little “review” or reflection about the Mim last year, particularly the second day / night. I had a really interesting conversation with your dad that night and something crystalized in my mind about the whole experience.
My amazement with the day / night involved a lot of things: meeting David, hearing your rehearsal for David, giving my unusual talk, hearing the concert, watching the final piece including Carolyn’s difficulties, seeing you play that piece, watching David tenderly touch Carolyn’s face on stage and seeing her transform into a smile, partying with the gang including more conversations with David, Polina, you, your dad and others . . .
Because I may never get to writing a nice essay, I want to share this with you: Carolyn’s “breakdown” was somehow the essence of the whole experience. It was PART of the validity and reality of the whole thing. I felt like the whole audience was stranded with Carolyn, aching for her, panic’ed, unable to do anything, feeling so heartbroken, watching a human go through terrible difficulties while remaining helpless. I feel this live experience is EXACTLY the moment when the boy David, about to be shot, saved his own life through his violin. Do you know what I mean? It is almost as if Carolyn channeled something and literally had to embody the suffering because of her intense sensitivity. It was like the concert became a seance or a kind of supernatural recreation.
I could be insane. But that is how I personally felt. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
From Carolyn Corbett (narrator of HAIM world premiere)
Oct 12, 2012
Thank you for your email.
It means so much.
Very happy to hear the Haim piece
premiered on the east coast at Yale.
I am certain all who attended were
riveted to the core.
Mr. Arben is a whole planet.
A human star walking around on earth.
Why was I given the miraculous chance to
read his remarkable life tale?
Thank you, Rebecca, for making the world a better place
through sound, song and melody.